The 9-month farm bill extension passed in the fiscal cliff legislation earlier this week took many by surprise, and reaction has been mixed among commodity groups and association leaders. Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association Dan Weathington:
“We still may be hanging on the cliff as farmers. We really don’t know until we get all this figured out.”
NC Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler explains the extension offers farmers some security at least through planting season:
“We want to be able to manage the risk and want enough certainty so that farmers could obtain the financing they need. I have reviewed the 37 areas that did not have baselines and were not funded and I don’t think the world will come to an end because at this point they have not been funded, so we will move forward.”
Commissioner Troxler says a couple of important programs that pertain to specialty crops made it through with the extension:
“There were two areas that we were really concerned about. One was the specialty crop program which remains in place and the other was MAP funding which was marketing funding that all of the states use through their regional trade associations. Both of those are left in place.”
Rural economies hoping to rebound from a dismal post-recession recovery, on the other hand, took a direct hit from the extension.
For the next nine months, at least, getting started as a young farmer will continue to be financially impractical at best with all of the targeted programs, such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to the National Organic Cost-Share Program to the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAGP), being completely left out of the last minute agreement.
Troxler reiterates the extension is just a stop-gap measure and not a long-term solution:
“We hope that congress will come back and go to work on a permanent farm bill. Some thing that we can hang our hat on long term. I heard the house may start that process some time in February, and we certainly hope that happens.”
Ag Senator Chuck Grassley predicts there will be less politics in a 2013 Farm Bill rewrite – but even more budget pressure. Grassley says when it comes to farm bill politics – and the reluctance of House GOP leaders to do a farm bill last year – it’s now no longer an election year…
“I would want to draw a conclusion that the house wont handle it this year like they did last year because this is not an election year and Chairman Lucas is committed to getting a farm bill procedure started Feb 26.”
And Weathington emphasizes the overall goal of any farm bill legislation:
“It’s important that we keep farmers farming and try to keep a good healthy food supply here in the US.”
Reaction to the extension of the 2008 farm bill.